Rangers Recall: A highway robbery in Sunrise, Florida

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Florida Panthers
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers committed a crime in Sunrise, Florida on Sunday. When Alex Wennberg recorded his first goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs 5:35 into overtime, the Blueshirts stole a huge game from the Florida Panthers. After being outshot 37 to 23, with a shot attempt differential of 108 to 44, there simply is no other way to classify this win as nothing short of highway robbery.

“It’s amazing,” Wennberg smiled postgame. “You see the puck go into the net, it’s a burst of energy, a burst of all kinds of feelings. It’s great, obviously.

“The third period didn’t end the way we want it, but you’ve to go in and reset. Obviously, we had a little talk there, but this team, we have that belief as a group. We’re maybe not the most vocal, but we all look at each other. We know what to do and you obviously see when we get out there, we get the job done.”

Now the Rangers have a chance to regroup and put forth a more complete effort in Game 4 of this Eastern Conference Final battle set for Tuesday. If they can find a way to come out on top again, they will grab a 3-1 stranglehold on this series with a chance to close them out at Madison Square Garden in Game 5.

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Rangers Recall: Blueshirts steal one in Florida

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Florida Panthers
Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

It started with two goals in 25 seconds by Alexis Lafreniere and Barclay Goodrow to take a 2-1 lead early in the first period. The Panthers responded with Sam Reinhart’s second power-play goal of the stanza to equalize.

In the second period, the Rangers same duo did their magic again with Lafreniere scoring hands downs the best goal of this postseason run to date, and Goodrow blasting one shorthanded.

Prior to the start of the series, we called Lafreniere possibly the Rangers’ best weapon against the heavy-hitting Panthers because of his combination of speed, skill, and physicality. As the Blueshirts top stars continue to be shutdown, the 22-year-old winger busted through Florida’s defenses to make a huge difference on Sunday.

“I think my working hard this summer, trying to improve my skating,” Lafreniere explained about his emergence as a scoring threat. “I just try to play my game and make plays. Obviously, playing with ‘Bread’ and ‘Troch’ helps a lot.”

As for Goodrow, he’s scored three of the Rangers last six goals going back to his Game 2 overtime winner. The 31-year-old veteran, who scored just four times in the regular season has six goals and two assists in 13 playoff games to date.

“He’s been a key contributor,” coach Peter Laviolette said of Goodrow. “We ask different players to do different roles. A lot of his is the heavy lifting on the defensive side of the puck. But he’s certainly a guy whose put up numbers in his career with big goals in big opportunities in playoffs past.”

Of course, the other story of this game was the play of Igor Shesterkin. Even though the Rangers relinquished their 4-2 lead in the third period, if not for the 28-year-old backstop, there’s no opportunity to win it in overtime.

From the start of the third period until Wennberg deflected Ryan Lindgren’s point shot for the winner, Florida outshot the Rangers 18 to 8. Regarding shot attempts, the Panthers held a 41 to 10 advantage in the third period alone.

Shesterkin was basically under siege, but remained steadfast thwarting many incredibly difficult Panthers’ chances. That included Matthew Tkachuk coming in alone and firing a shot from point blank range to preserve the tie and set the stage for an epic steal.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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